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Control Jiu Jitsu enjoys impressive showing as host of Saskatchewan championship

Local competitors bring home total of 33 medals, including eight gold, from SaskBJJ provincials at YaraCentre

Control Jiu Jitsu competitor Travis Ratzlaff is by all accounts an experienced and successful practitioner of the sport, boasting a brown belt in the notoriously difficult-to-advance martial art on top of having 24 wins -- 21 by submission -- on his ledger.

So seeing Ratzlaff get to the final of the Men’s Absolute division during the SaskBJJ provincial championship on Saturday afternoon at YaraCentre was no surprise. 

What might have been a surprise to the uneducated eye was how things turned out in that match against Saskatoon-based blue belt Hunter Lee.

The two had met twice before during the day, with Lee taking 7-0 and 5-0 wins, and while the final was closer, Lee was able to maintain top control throughout and would go on to a 4-0 win to claim gold in the Absolute division.

So how does a just-turned blue belt go undefeated against competitors with way more BJJ experience?

As it turns out, Pan American Games-level wrestling is a pretty good base for any mat-based combat sport.

Lee, 24, is a former multiple-time USports wrestling champion with the U of S Huskies and has competed for Team Canada throughout his adult career, including most recently at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

He picked up jiu jitsu to enhance his overall abilities in mixed martial arts -- where he has a 2-0 record -- and has seen all sorts of success since, even with his comparative inexperience.

That continued on Saturday, where he went undefeated through all six of his matches.

“It was my first time competing in the gi, so I was excited about that," Lee said shortly after his Absolute gold medal win. "Going up against brown belts in the gi is tough, but it went pretty well and I was happy with it."

As one might expect, the Modern Martial Arts representative is plenty aware of what his wrestling brings to the game, even as he continues to work around the different ruleset in the sport.

“It’s the whole thing, if I didn’t have that wrestling background I wouldn’t be able hang with these guys,” Lee said. “They’re really, really good, but I have more experience competing than most of these guys, hundreds and hundreds of wrestling matches, so I’m pretty used to this kind of thing and it makes a big difference when you have that kind of experience. I don’t get nerves or anything like that, I don’t think about belts or anything, and I think that helps a lot.”

Ratzlaff was just one member of Control Jiu Jitsu to reach a final on the day, as competitors throughout all age groups and weight classes would bring home no less than 33 medals, including eight gold, 15 silver and 10 bronze.

That kind of stellar showing was especially positive in Control coach Donald Booth’s eyes, especially with some of youngsters taking the mat for the first time.

“Some of the beginner kids were really new, but they all went out and had a good time and a positive experience,” Booth said. “There were highs and lows throughout the day, there are tears of joy and tears of sadness, but it’s all part of them growing as an individual and athlete.”

Booth pointed to Payton Pinel as one of Control’s top competitors on the day, as the nine-year-old grey belt defeated both of her opponents by submission on her way to claiming gold. 

“She’s been with us quite a long time and did really well this weekend,” lauded Booth. “She competes in both jiu jitsu and our judo program and has been really coming along, so she did really well to win gold.”

A total of 267 athletes competed throughout the day, making it the largest jiu jitsu tournament of it’s kind in Moose Jaw in addition to one of the largest in the province.

Joining Pinel in claiming gold were Asher Fall (while belt, 5-6 years, featherweight), Leo Fall (while belt, 5-6 years, lightweight), Benjamin Gottselig (while belt, 7-8 years, lightweight), Braven Turner (white belt, 9-10 years, lightweight), Conrad Gottselig (white belt, 11-12 years, featherweight), Henry Church (grey belt, 7-8 years, featherweight) and Nicolas Lazcano (grey belt, 13-14 years, lightweight).

Control’s medal haul would be enough for the local school to claim the overall team provincial  title.

Next up for Control Jiu Jitsu is a potential showcase event at the Mae Wilson Theatre this spring, with planning in the earliest stages for what could be a special showing for the sport.

For more information on Control and what they have to offer, visit

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